Indonesia Jan-Sept fiscal deficit at 4.16% of GDP on higher spending

JAKARTA, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Indonesia’s budget deficit was estimated at 682.1 trillion rupiah ($46.56 billion) in the January-September period, equivalent to 4.16% of gross domestic product, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Monday.

The government has forecast a fiscal deficit of 6.34% of GDP for 2020, the widest in decades, due to increased spending on the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Total spending in the first nine months of the year was 1,841.1 trillion rupiah, up 15.5% from the same period in 2019, while revenue slid 13.7% on a yearly basis to 1,159 trillion rupiah, Sri Mulyani told a virtual news conference.

The government has faced criticism for slow budget disbursement, but Sri Mulyani said the latest data showed an acceleration that should prop up an economic recovery, noting nine-month spending was 67.2% of planned 2020 spending.

The central bank has so far met 58% of its targeted purchases of government bonds, on which it is forgoing interest, amounting to 229.68 trillion rupiah, she said.

Luky Alfirman, who heads the finance ministry’s debt management department, said the government aims to fully utilise its 397.56 trillion rupiah bond sale agreement for 2020 with Bank Indonesia and the proceeds would be used in part to finance procurement of vaccines. ($1 = 14,650.0000 rupiah) (Reporting by Tabita Diela and Gayatri Suroyo Editing by Ed Davies)